RMC fails to cement its German disposal

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The Independent Online

The cement maker RMC said yesterday it had halted discussions about offloading its unprofitable German operations. The company received an "unsolicited approach" three weeks ago from the German company HeidelbergerCement but after discussions with the European Commission and competition authorities, RMC said it was unable "to overcome the regulatory issues with certainty and within a timeframe acceptable to RMC".

Last year the German cartel office handed out significant fines after an investigation into price-fixing in the cement market, with Heidelberg receiving one of the largest fines. This is thought to have been a factor in the breakdown of the deal.

A spokesman for RMC said protracted discussions would potentially have a "damaging impact on the business". The chairman, Sir John Parker, said that "to prolong this uncertainty for longer than absolutely necessary was not in the interests of our German business, our employees or the group's shareholders".

Last month RMC announced what it called "unacceptable" half-year losses of £31.4m in Germany. Yesterday it said it will now have to investigate "other options in Germany".

Shares in RMC closed down almost 7 per cent at 604.5p.